Gangubai Kathiawadi Film Review:“Gangubai Kathiawadi” is a 2022 Indian biographical crime drama helmed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali and co-produced by Bhansali and Jayantilal Gada. The film features Alia Bhatt in the titular role, supported by a stellar cast including Shantanu Maheshwari, Vijay Raaz, Indira Tiwari, Seema Pahwa, Jim Sarbh, and Ajay Devgn.

Based on the life of Gangubai Kothewali as chronicled in S. Hussain Zaidi’s book “Mafia Queens of Mumbai,” the narrative portrays the journey of a young woman from Kathiawad who navigates the twists of fate to carve her own destiny.

Gangubai Kathiawadi Film Review - The Celeb Guru

Premiering at the 72nd Berlin International Film Festival on February 16, 2022, “Gangubai Kathiawadi” hit theaters on February 25, 2022, garnering widespread critical acclaim for its compelling themes, direction, production quality, and Alia Bhatt’s portrayal.

With an impressive box office performance, the film grossed ₹153.69 crore (US$19 million) domestically and ₹209.77 crore (US$26 million) globally, solidifying its commercial success. It earned a place on numerous year-end best films and performances lists for 2022.

Accolades poured in for the film, with Gangubai Kathiawadi bagging five awards, including Best Actress for Bhatt and Best Screenplay for Bhansali and Vashishtha, at the 69th National Film Awards. At the 68th Filmfare Awards, the film received a whopping 17 nominations, clinching 11 awards, including Best Film, Best Director for Bhansali, and Best Actress for Bhatt.


In 1956, a 15-year-old girl named Madhu from Ratnagiri district is deceived and trafficked into prostitution in Kamathipura, Bombay’s red-light district. There, she faces torment from brothel madame Rashmibai for refusing to comply. Seeking a solution, Rashmibai turns to Gangubai, Kamathipura’s influential madame, to persuade Madhu. Gangubai, empathizing with Madhu’s plight, shares her own story, hoping to inspire her.

Gangubai, originally Ganga Jagjivandas Kathiawadi, hailed from a wealthy family in Kathiawad. Entranced by the promise of a film career, she fled with her older boyfriend, Ramnik Lal, only to be sold into prostitution by him. Renamed Gangu, she befriends a fellow prostitute, Kamli, and gains prominence in the brothel due to her intelligence and beauty.

Gangu introduces labor rights at the brothel, but faces brutality from a local goon, Shaukat Abbas Khan. Seeking justice, she appeals to mafia leader Rahim Lala, who becomes her protector. After years of struggle, Gangu rises to become Gangubai, the madame of the brothel, and a powerful figure in Kamathipura.

Moved by Madhu’s resolve, Gangubai releases her from the brothel and facilitates her return home. Inspired by Madhu’s courage, Gangubai enters the presidential elections of Kamathipura against the incumbent, Raziabai, utilizing her act of kindness for electoral gain.

Facing opposition from the establishment, Gangubai rallies support by advocating for the civil rights of prostitutes. She fights against attempts to evict them from Kamathipura, highlighting the importance of education for their children.

Gangubai’s efforts culminate in a meeting with the Prime Minister, urging for the legalization of prostitution and protection of sex workers’ rights. Despite initial resistance, the Prime Minister agrees to investigate the status of prostitution and protect Kamathipura from eviction.

As prostitution is legalized and trafficking is outlawed, Kamathipura celebrates its continued existence, thanks to Gangubai Kathiawadi’s unwavering determination. The film concludes, portraying Gangubai’s resilience and transformation from a victim to a symbol of empowerment.

Main casts

Alia Bhatt Gangubai Kathiawadi Ajay Devgan Rahim Lala
Chhaya Kadam Rashmibai Shantanu Maheshwari Afsaan Badr-ur-Razzaq
Mitalee Varadkar Kusum Vijay Raaz Raziabai


The buzz surrounding an adaptation from one of Hussain Zaidi’s chapters in “Mafia Queens of Mumbai” initially surfaced in June 2017, with Priyanka Chopra set to headline the project. Originally titled “Heera Mandi,” the film underwent changes over time. In March 2019, Chopra confirmed her collaboration with Bhansali, who also announced his project “Gangubai Kathiawadi” with Chopra in the lead role.

However, by September 2019, news circulated that Alia Bhatt, initially cast for Bhansali’s “Inshallah,” which was subsequently shelved, would replace Chopra. Principal photography commenced at Film City, Mumbai, on December 27, 2019.


The movie signifies the entry into Hindi cinema for television personality Shantanu Maheshwari, embodying the character of Gangubai’s boyfriend, Afsaan. Additionally, TV actor Varun Kapoor makes his debut in a morally ambiguous role as Ramnik Lala.


Production came to a halt in March 2020, with the Indian government’s COVID-19 lockdown in effect, halting the film at 70% completion. Alia Bhatt resumed filming on October 6, 2020, and Ajay Devgn, set to make a cameo appearance, joined the sets on February 27, 2021. The final touches were completed, and the film wrapped up on June 26, 2021.


Gangubai Kathiawadi premiered on February 16, 2022, at the 72nd Berlin International Film Festival’s Berlinale Speciale Gala Section. The theatrical release followed on February 25, 2022. Originally slated for July 30, 2021, the release was postponed due to the escalating COVID-19 cases and the second wave of the pandemic. Subsequently, it was rescheduled for a worldwide theatrical release on January 6, 2022, but to avoid clashing with S. S. Rajamouli’s “RRR,” the date was shifted to February 18. Eventually, the release was pushed back by a week, landing on February 25, 2022. The film hit screens in Hindi along with a Telugu-language dubbed version.

Share this content:

You May Also Like

More From Author

+ There are no comments

Add yours